Photo: Illustration. Courtesy of Venti Views/Unsplash

New alliance to standardize digitalization of international trade

Several industry associations have formed a new alliance to standardize the digitalization of international trade.

The formation of the Future International Trade (FIT) Alliance was announced by Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), a non-profit group established to further digitalisation of container shipping technology standards.

DCSA has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with BIMCO — one of the world’s largest shipping associations, the FIATA International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and SWIFT — a provider of secure financial messaging services.

The organizations have committed to collaborating on the development and adoption of relevant standards to facilitate the use of electronic bills of lading (eBL).

Related Article

Through this initiative, the FIT Alliance will work together to generate awareness about the importance of common and interoperable data standards and common legislative conditions across international jurisdictions and platforms. The aim is to facilitate acceptance and adoption of an eBL by regulators, banks and insurers and to unify communication between these organisations and customers, physical and contractual carriers, and all other stakeholders involved in an international trade transaction.

“The digitalisation of documentation for container shipments will add value for international suppliers who rely on shipping across sectors,” David Loosley, Secretary General and CEO of BIMCO, explained.

“Aligning these standards with the electronic bill of lading standard for the dry and liquid bulk sectors, which we are developing with assistance from DCSA, will help accelerate the digitalisation of trade globally.”

“Interoperability between all actors of the trade and transport industry is the key foundation to enable smooth data exchange and to streamline the end-to-end shipping process for our members,” Stephane Graber, FIATA Director General, said.

“FIATA, as the owner of the only negotiable multimodal transport document, endorsed by UNCTAD and ICC, is convinced that an industry-wide effort to establish open-source, interoperable, technology-agnostic standards is essential to make digitalization of international trade a reality.”

“FIATA is committed to facilitating adoption of digital processes for freight-forwarders. We took the lead by developing the electronic FIATA Bill of Lading (eFBL) standard, which will further the acceptance of electronic documents by all stakeholders involved in a bill of lading (B/L) transaction.”

“ICC represents 45 million companies in over 100 countries, and our mission is to make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere,” John W.H. Denton AO, ICC Secretary General, commented.

“Living up to that means finding ways to make international trade far less complex than it currently is. Through the FIT Alliance, we are collaborating with key industry players to create and accelerate the adoption of digital standards for bills of lading that will make international shipping dramatically more simple, secure and seamless.”

“SWIFT is the way the world moves value, connecting 11,500 institutions in more than 200 countries and facilitating over $2 trillion in global trade every year. We have significantly accelerated cross-border flows in recent years and are innovating at scale to make them instant. To that end, we are delighted to be part of this cross-industry collaboration to tackle friction through standardisation and enable interoperability across the ecosystem to allow rich data to flow freely between multiple platforms,” David Watson, Chief Strategy Officer at SWIFT, said.

“From the beginning, DCSA has understood the importance of cross-industry collaboration to achieve the elusive goal of universal eBL,” Thomas Bagge, DCSA CEO, noted.

“The FIT Alliance is one exciting result of our ongoing effort to drive that collaboration. Container ships carry 90% of the world’s goods. As such, an incredibly diverse set of stakeholders touches the B/L transaction—from government regulators, to insurers, to shippers from every industry. To achieve widespread use of eBL, they must all be on board with adopting digital B/L standards.”

“The agreement between DCSA and these diverse industry associations is an exciting milestone in our journey towards standardising all container shipping documentation through our eDocumentation initiative. We applaud the foresight and leadership of these organisations for joining us in the effort to bring greater transparency, efficiency, reliability and sustainability to the container shipping industry.”

Follow Offshore Energy’s Green Marine on social media: